In a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers investigated whether lifestyle interventions such as Mediterranean diet abidance and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) during pregnancy could effectively improve pediatric neurodevelopment at two years of age.
Study: Effect of a Mediterranean Diet or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During Pregnancy on Child Neurodevelopment. Image Credit: ElizavetaGalitckaia/Shutterstock.com
Maternal lifestyle and maternal stress are known modifiable risk factors for fetal neurodevelopment. Studies have reported that unhealthy dietary habits, including increased consumption of fats, and obesity among mothers, can negatively impact neurodevelopment in their children. At the same time, elevated maternal stress levels alter fetal brain structural growth and worsen postnatal neurodevelopment.
The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these relationships are unclear; however, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) is reportedly involved. Interventions promoting healthy dietary patterns and stress reduction may restore HPA functions and improve fetal neurodevelopment.
About the study
In the present study, researchers evaluated the impacts of stress reduction and dietary interventions among pregnant females on neurodevelopment in their children aged two years.
The study included the Improving Mothers for a Better Prenatal Care Trial Barcelona (IMPACT BCN) parallel-group randomized controlled trial (RCT) participants, who were enrolled between February 2017 and October 2019 and followed up until childbirth (until 1 March 2020).
The trial was carried out at an educational facility in Barcelona. In total, 1,221 singleton pregnancies (between gestational weeks 19 and 23) with an increased risk of small-for-gestational-age (SGA) newborn delivery were randomly divided into three groups in a 1:1:1 ratio: the dietary intervention group, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program group, and the regular care group.
The dietary intervention group participants were provided group- and individual-level educational classes and walnuts and extra virgin-type olive oil complimentary every month.
The MBSR group participants underwent an eight-week stress-lowering program tailored to pregnant individuals, and the regular care group received pregnancy care as per standard protocols.
The MBSR program comprised eight weeks of weekly group classes (20 to 25 females per group) of 2.5 hours, one full-day session, and everyday practice at home. The sessions comprised didactic presentations, 45.0-minute mindfulness meditation practices, body awareness, group discussions, and mindful yoga.
The IMPACT study’s primary endpoint was the proportion of SGA newborns, and the secondary endpoint was adverse perinatal outcomes. The third edition of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development Scale (Bayley-III) was used for postnatal evaluation.
All individuals visited the university hospital after completing the intervention (between gestational weeks 34 and 36), to fill out perinatal data-related questionnaires and provide urinary samples for analysis.
The present study outcomes were scores for the motor, language, cognitive, motor, adaptive behavior, and social-emotional Bayley-III domains, evaluated by two trained physiologists. The outcome measure was neurodevelopment at 2.0 years, based on Bayley-III scores.
The relationships between Bayley-III scores, biomarkers, and questionnaire information were also assessed. Linear regression models were used for data analysis between July and November 2022.
Mediterranean dietary evaluations were performed using food frequency questionnaires (FFQs). Stress reduction was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) questionnaires, the World Health Organization’s Five Well-being Index (WHO-5), and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire.
Maternal mindfulness was assessed using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). In addition, maternal 24.0-hour urinary cortisol and cortisone levels were monitored among participants who did not consume corticosteroids.
In total, 626 pediatric individuals [333 (53%) males and 293 (47%) females] participated in the study, among whom the mean age was 25 months. Baseline characteristics were identical among the intervention groups. High adherence was observed among 177 individuals (72%) in the dietary intervention group and 137 (66%) in the MBSR group.
In comparison to regular care group children, those from the dietary intervention group showed higher Bayley-III scores for the socioemotional (mean 109 versus 103) and cognitive (mean 124 versus 119) domains, whereas the MBSR group children showed higher socio-emotional domain scores (mean 108 versus 103), than regular care group children. Similar differences were observed after data adjustments for the mothers’ socioeconomic status and the fetuses’ genders.
Adaptive, motor, and language scores were comparable in the study groups. The IMPACT BCN trial showed a significant decrease in SGA rates (14% with SGA in the dietary intervention group and 16% in the MBSR group compared to 22% in the non-intervention group).
However, non-significant differences were observed in Bayley-III scorings between SGA and non-SGA newborns. The dietary intervention scores showed significantly positive relationships with the language and cognitive domains.
Increased docosahexaenoic acid intake significantly improved language scores, whereas higher trans-fat intake was inversely correlated with language and social-emotional domain scores.
Maternal stress and anxiety levels in the pregnancy period showed significantly negative relationships with domains of Bayley-III. Higher WHO-5 scores were related to higher Bayley-III scores for the language, social-emotional, and adaptive behaviour domains. The 24.0-hour urinary cortisol and cortisone levels were significantly and positively related to the language Bayley-III domain.
Based on the study findings, maternal lifestyle interventions such as MBSR and Mediterranean diets during pregnancy can significantly improve child neurodevelopmental outcomes at two years of age.
The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life
Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.
That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.
What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?
Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.
Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.
Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations
As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.
Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:
- Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
- Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
- Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.
Determining a Fair Payment Plan
Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.
Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.
Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers
When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:
- Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
- Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
- Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
- Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.
Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.
Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.
Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home
THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.
The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.
No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.
Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.
Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister
Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.
Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.
“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”
Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.
“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.
LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.
“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.
The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.
LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.
On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.
“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.
“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.
She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.
Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.
LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.
“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.
–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News
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